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Project Runway All Stars Winner Mondo Guerra is a man of many talents. He makes gorgeous dresses. He rocks a pompadour like nobody's business. He's an HIV awareness advocate. Is there anything he can't do?
The latest addition to Mondo's long list of talents is eyewear design. After dazzling us with his optical choices during two rounds of Project Runway, Mondo has teamed up with SEE Eyewear to bring his quirky-chic visions to the spec-sporting masses. The result? Budget-friendly styles ($99 to $299) in a whimsical assortment of colors and patterns. We caught up with Mondo over the weekend to find out how the SEE collab came about, when we'll be able to purchase his apparel designs, and who should win the new season of Project Runway: All Stars.
What inspired you to collaborate with SEE?
"I was a customer at SEE before they approached me. Actually, we kind of approached each other. When I was on All Stars, they sponsored a couple of my viewing parties in Denver. They were really wonderful, and I knew their customer service was hands down the best. That was really important. It's a family business. I felt like they had a really good sense of community and honesty within their brand."
A portion of all sales from Mondo by SEE eyeglasses will be donated to amfAR, (the Foundation for AIDS Research). Is this your first time working with amfAR?
"No, this is my second time. I did something with Piperlime benefitting AmFAR around World AIDS Day when I first got off of [Project Runway Season 8]. After I got off of Season 8, it was really important for me, because I told my story on the show, to use that visibility as a platform for more awareness and education for HIV. Every time I sign a deal or a contract — whether it's with SEE or another company — it's really important for me to able to give back. Every organization is important. There are so many local AIDS service organizations around the country. They provide services that help so many people. It's not just about being HIV-positive or HIV-negative; it's about being able to access that information. That's the bigger picture of it all."
You're selling bow ties on your website with the original print you created during Season 8. Will there be more products with that print?
"There are going to be some more products. We're going to be doing a very special gift item around World AIDS Day this year. It's another original print that I created that's loosely reflective of the original positivity print. We're really excited about it, and I think it's something that's gender unbiased. The men and the women can both get it. And, again, it's really important to get it because we're contributing [the proceeds] to an organization."
You scheduled two appearances in San Francisco to promote your SEE collaboration. Are you a frequent visitor to the Bay Area?
"You know, San Francisco is my favorite American city. When I'm in a different city, like Philadelphia or New York, I say: 'No, San Francisco is my favorite. Sorry guys.' I love San Francisco. It's so beautiful from every angle. The only thing that I don't like is that I'm very prone to being car sick, so the hills are terrible for me.
I used to live here back in the day, when I was like 20. I lived off 17th at Valencia, right across from the McDonalds. It just didn't fit for me. It was a different period of my life. In San Francisco, I feel like you have the luxury of having a cosmopolitan city, but you also have a sense of maturity ... Here, I wasn't ready to conquer the world because I wasn't ready to settle down. I feel like people here can be considered nesters, but they are also very fabulous."
Do you have any local favorite places to visit?
"Foreign Cinema. I love going to that restaurant. My friend Chris lives [here] so I always go visit him. That's probably one of my favorite haunts. And, of course, Folsom Street. All the gay bars on Folsom. It's fun to just walk down and experience all that. And I've been Folsom [Street Fair] once. I've been to Gay Pride here in San Francisco once."
Do you have plans to sell your designs in San Francisco?
"We're doing direct-to-consumer on my website, mondoguerra.com. That will be coming in February. A lot of people keep asking me because they've been waiting for years at this point. It's coming out very soon, but it's proven to be difficult because I'm trying to put up the capital for everything. I don't want to sell any of my equity from the company and I don't want to sell my creativity to anybody else. I love the love that comes through my work, and it's hard to let go of certain elements. We are cutting domestically, and we're cutting domestically in my hometown of Denver, Colorado. Through the whole process that is Project Runway, I've learned the art of patience. I know that in the end, things really do pay off. I get a little frustrated with the whole process, but I have no control over it. What am I supposed to do? It is what it is."
Have you considered crowd-sourcing? Can we get a Kickstarter going for you?
"My business manager and I have talked about that, and I think we're going to go ahead and do that. Originally —especially coming off of the show and having that visibility—I felt like it might diminish the brand, so I was a little scared about that. Now that I look at it, and I see who's doing it, it makes perfect sense because of the visibility. There are a lot of people who have been waiting, who really support me and really enjoy what I do, and want to see me succeed. I think the crowd sourcing is a perfect fit."
We loved your Project Runway Season 12 recaps for The Hollywood Reporter. Do you have any predictions or favorites for Project Runway: All Stars Season 3?
"Of course I do! It's a little disturbing that they brought back previous winners. I felt like that doesn't make sense. Like they're grabbing for straws at this point. I'm really rooting for Viktor. When he was on his season, I thought he should have won. He's just so talented and so passionate. I really like Korto. She's always been the bridesmaid, and I feel like she deserves to win at this point. The wonderful thing about Korto is that she's very honest. She doesn't deal with the bullshit. She's like, "I'm here to work, you can do your thing. If you don't like me, you don't like me." I feel like she really has the skills to go really far and she deserves to win."
On to the famous Racked lightning round!
Cats or dogs?
Beach or mountains?
"Eww. God. Neither. Mall."
Twitter or Instagram?
And an open-ended question. What are you going to be for Halloween?
"Oh shit. I've been on the road for two weeks. I don't know what I'm going to be."
· Project Runway's Mondo Guerra: This Purchase "Ruined My Life" [Racked]
· SEE Eyewear [Official Site]
· Mondo Guerra[Official Site]
· amfAR [Official Site]